Riz Ahmed: I've challenged stereotypes

The London-born actor - who is the son of Pakistani immigrants - is the first Asian male and first Muslim to win an acting Emmy.

Riz Ahmed. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - British actor Riz Ahmed has revealed he feels proud to have challenged "lazy stereotypes" during his career.

The 34-year-old actor, who starred as a wannabe jihadist in the 2010 comedy movie Four Lions, says he made a conscious decision to deal with issues surrounding Islamophobia in a creative way.

The London-born star - who was named the outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie for _The Night Of _on Sunday - shared: "A lot of my early work deals with the issues around the war on terror or Islamophobia, but I'm proud that it deals with those issues in creative ways and in ways that move us forward rather than doubling down on lazy stereotypes.

"But yeah, there was a lot of, like, Terrorist No3 stuff. I just made a decision I wasn't going to do it. I thought, 'I'd rather be broke'."

Ahmed is the first Asian male and first Muslim to win an acting Emmy.

But the actor, who is the son of Pakistani immigrants, can still recall the racist abuse he received during his childhood.

He told The Sun newspaper: "I grew up dancing between different worlds a lot.

"Wembley kind of went through a lot of transitions in the time that I lived there.

"It went from being quite a lower-middle class white area to recently becoming an Asian immigrant area. When I was a little kid, I mean I remember we suffered quite a lot of racism as well."

Ahmed even suffered abuse during his student days at Oxford University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics.

He recalled: "The first person I met at Oxford, I asked to borrow a phone charger. She looked at me, laughed in my face, and told me with no irony or malice that I looked just like Ali G.

"I would go back to my room, tune in to 1Xtra (the BBC's urban music network), think what I could be doing with music back in London, and wonder, 'What the hell am I doing here?'"